Mobile News Update on the Rivalry Between Apple and Samsung

European Union recently announces that it started to conduct a formal investigation regarding alleged effort of Samsung to hinder competitors. Another hit received by Samsung was the decision of Germany to block sales of some of its tablet computers.

The two giant companies have been disputing over patents in various courts around the world as they are striving to get a greater market share over the other, particularly in mobile industry.

The move of EU’s antitrust watchdog to conduct a formal investigation is for them to find out whether the Korean company is using lawsuits over key patents on 3G wireless technology to prevent competitors from doing their business competitively including Apple.

The European Commission is functioning as the EU’s antitrust enforcer. EC suspected Samsung for depriving other companies to have fair access to patents it holds on standardized 3G technology for mobile devices despite agreeing to do so back in 1998.

The investigation also affected tablets including the newest iPad from Apple which runs with standardized wireless 3G technology.

The Commission mentioned that Samsung looked legal injunctions in 2011 against other mobile device manufacturers in different EU states for patent infringement.

According to EU patent rules, a company is required to license its patented standardized products out indiscriminately at a fair price.

If found guilty of not complying with EU patent rules, Samsung can be fined as much as 10 percent of its annual revenue related to the probe.

Patent analyst Florian Mueller said that Samsung has to react carefully with the probe. According to Mueller, Samsung has involved several legal proceedings against Apple in Europe including in Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and France. It also sued Apple in the U.S., Japan, Australia and Japan. Mueller, who has been closely monitoring the dispute between Apple and Samsung, expected that the latter may now tend to withdraw its court case against Apple in response to the recent mobile news of the European probe.

The dispute between the two giant companies started when California-based Apple took legal action against Samsung in April 2011 for alleged copying of product design, UI and packaging. Apple was particularly referring to Samsung’s Galaxy devices for copying iPhone and iPad.

Samsung then responded by filing its own legal case accusing Apple of patent infringement of its wireless telecommunications technology. European Commission spokesman said that it launch a probe after a thorough investigation of the market and not because of complaints of several competitors of Samsung. However, the Commission sent antitrust questionnaires to Samsung and Apple in 2011.

The spokesman announced that similar investigation will be conducted against other companies which strategically stop their competitors in selling similar devices by using patent lawsuits.

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics spokesman Nam Ki-yung said that details of the launched probe were examined thoroughly by his company but he did not give any further comment.

In separate mobile news, a court of appeals in Germany ruled in favor of Apple in its copyright infringement case against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 8.9. The court prohibits Samsung to sell the said products in violation of unfair competition laws saying that Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 resembled the iPad2.

However, Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab 10.1N was not included in the ruling and the company downplays the ruling saying that it is largely irrelevant.

In an official statement issued by Samsung to The Associated Press, the company said that the ruling is of little factual relevance because of the new model Galaxy Tab 10.1N making the decision irrelevant with respect to other legal proceedings that involve Galaxy Tab 10.1N. The company added that it will continue to take all appropriate measures to allow consumers to enjoy all of their innovative products. (c) 2012

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